Having grown up at Westcave Preserve, Amber Gosselin's love for the region combined with her conservation and natural resource expertise made her a natural fit to be the Conservation Director for the non-profit organization. A native of Dripping Springs, Texas, Gosselin still lives in Dripping Springs with her husband and two girls.
Destination Dripping Springs sat down with Amber to chat about the Preserve and her conservation work.
Destination Dripping Springs: Hey Amber, thanks for meeting with us. Would you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
Amber Ahrns Gosselin: First off, I am a Dripping Springs girl through and through. I went from kinder through 12th grade at Dripping Springs ISD. My husband, Dave and I are raising our girls here who both attend DSISD schools. Go Tigers! I love our town, which was so small when I was a kid (only one flashing red light, ONE!), but has grown into the thriving, fun and thoughtful ‘small’ town of today!
I grew up at Westcave Preserve and have an intrinsic love of the outdoors. I attribute my love of nature to my parents who raised me there. My father, John Ahrns, was Westcave’s first Preserve Manager. At the start of my career, I helped manage Hamilton Pool Preserve for the better part of a decade. I received my degree from Texas State in Geography and Planning. After graduation, I became a Natural Resource Specialist with Travis County. I managed both the Balcones Canyonland Preserve and Park systems by protecting natural resources, monitoring biological species, coordinating habitat restoration and enhancement for endangered species. After decades at Travis County, I was offered the unique opportunity to honor my father’s legacy to continue protecting the Hill Country gem that is Westcave Preserve as Conservation Director at Westcave.
DDS: What conservation related projects are you currently working on at the Preserve?
AG: Currently, one of the most important things I am working on is watershed research, protection and education. We have great neighborhood engagement in our shared watershed. Water is the future! Spring also brings many important (and fun!) research programs including golden-cheeked warbler surveys, dragonfly and frog surveys, among others!
DDS: What’s do you feel like is the biggest threat to open-spaces/water in the Hill Country and what can people do to mitigate that threat?
AG: I feel the biggest threat is the rapid development of our precious Hill Country. I worry we won’t have our pretty open spaces, views and enough water to go around. I always encourage people to get involved! Go volunteer at your local park or preserve, hang a bird feeder, plant a butterfly garden, hike a new trail, if you don’t already love the outdoors you will soon. It is hard not to care about something once you come to understand it.
DDS: What’s your favorite part of working at the Preserve?
AG: Westcave has to-date been my most favorite of jobs, though I have had some good ones! I have had some beautiful ‘offices’ over the years but Westcave is unique not just because of its beauty but the people who gravitate to and care about Westcave makes it incredibly special. I love many aspects of my job doing research, trail work, land management, community outreach, etc. but I adore working with our awesome volunteers, interns, researchers and staff all who help make Westcave so extraordinary. Our community and neighbors, old and new, are incredibly supportive and protective of Westcave. We simply could not exist and thrive without the support of all these people, after all these decades (over 45 years!). For ALL of them, those I know and love and those my Dad worked with, I thank you.
DDS: Is there a specific bird that tops your bucket list – or one that everyone strives to see?
AG: I love all our beautiful migrants from the rainbow bright, painted buntings, battle ready, hummingbirds to the elusive and haunting, Chuck-wills-widow. However, my very favorite migrant is our beautiful endangered, Golden-cheeked Warbler. These little guys have faced some stiff odds with so much development in Central Texas, so fast, but they are tough Texans. I have surveyed this bird for 25+years and learn something new each season!